Saturday, January 08, 2005

here comes the sun king

You've got to hand it to Mr and Mrs Presley.

If you're going to have an immortal icon for a child, give them a name that nobody has ever heard before so the world can use that single name, just like the way we refer to Buddha, Moses or Jordan.

It just wouldn't have been the same if they'd named him Alan Presley, would it?

Elvis' image is now an integral part of our cultural firmament, as evidenced by AOL's new advertising campaign. It features a bunch of Elvis impersonators being very pleased that the internet has information about Elvis. The premise - that the internet is interesting, therefore I should sign up to AOL - is about as convincing as telling us that because travelling is interesting we should buy a Reliant Robin.

But that's not why I'm mentioning it. The thing that gets me is that all the Elvis impersonators are 70s Elvis in flared catsuits and shades.

Elvis hit so hard because he was a fiery pioneer. This was a guy who went round in a pink shirt and bolero jacket - clothes that'd draw flak in contemporary cosmopolitan environments - when he was an unknown teenager in the postwar Deep South.

Elvis took all the dark, brooding libidinous rhythm and outsiderness of the blues and added the tension that only white culture's repression can generate. This incendiary hybrid is the basis of rock n roll. Elvis served it up with explosive sexuality and dynamic power that swept away all that came before it.

The young Elvis' swaggering kinetic energy is impossible to imitate. So feeble unimaginative twats devoid of talent do an 'Elvis impression' by putting on a rhinestone studded romper suit and going uh-huh-huh. It makes Showaddywaddy look like authentic rock n roll.

The prevalence of these half-arsed half-brained tosspots shifts the popular notion of what Elvis was. We've seen so much of this that it's come to be the first image in our minds when his name gets mentioned.

Just like Grease, this lame light entertainment disconnects us from the fire and fury, the passion and drive of rock n roll. A social revolution is morphed into predicatable entertainment, mild amusement at stale cliches; everything rock n roll came to save us from in the first place.

Today would have been Elvis' 70th birthday. But his life was cut short when he keeled over in the middle of taking a shit in August 1977, full of drugs and weighing over 18 stone.

In honour of that, here's a comparitive chart of what he would have weighed on the planets of our solar system on that day.

Earth : 255 pounds - 18 stone 3lb - 115.67kg

The Sun : 7,140 pounds - 510 stone - 3,238.65kg

Mercury or Mars : 97 pounds - 6 stone 13lb - 43.99kg

Venus : 232 pounds - 16 stone 8lb - 105.23kg

The Moon : 43 pounds - 3 stone 1lb - 19.5kg

Jupiter : 648 pounds - 46 stone 4lb - 293.93kg

Saturn : 75 pounds - 19 stone 9lb - 124.74kg

Uranus : 204 pounds - 14 stone 8lb - 92.53kg

Neptune : 306 pounds - 21 stone 9lb - 137.44kg

Pluto : 10 pounds - 4.54kg


Mags said...

The Guardian Weekend at least had a good photo of Elvis in the back pages. It was of him buying his lunch, just prior to real fame, and was selected by Billy Bragg. Naturally, this is one of the few bits of the Guardian not to be online. I could scan it, I suppose...

Anonymous said...

I know some of you would have me put in the ground with Diana on that island for saying this, but....

Elvis? Utter wank.

merrick said...

Well, my anonymous friend, I thank you for your reasoned and well-rounded opinion. In the face of such unimpeachable logic I hereby I retract all of my previous passionate artistic critique and sociological analysis on the subject. If only there were more people as eloquent as yourself.